Cultural Factors Shaping “Crisis” Conversations in Higher Education

12:00pm - 1:00pm EST February 4, 2014

The current conversations about crisis in education - and the equally contentious debates about how to solve said crises - do not occur in a vacuum: both the problems and the solutions are the product of a dynamic cultural, economic, and political context. How do faculty, staff, and administrators navigate this changing environment in a way that honors the mission of their institutions and the wider values of post-secondary education? (Times EST)

In his pathbreaking work, cultural and media studies scholar Raymond Williams discusses the concept of determination as being “the setting of limits and the application of pressures.” As we approach the changing environment of higher education in the U.S., it is important to look at the drivers of change, the implicit and explicit limits and pressures, and whether the solutions being offered aren’t taking for granted a context that may be changing - or bound to stay the same. Which is more prone to change: the cultural practices and beliefs around the value of higher education or the temporary results of a yet to be resolved financial crisis? What is, in the words of Williams, the intention behind the technological innovations that are meant to resolve these crises? Who is driving these conversations and what are their interests in the resolutions they offer? How do faculty, staff, and administrators navigate this changing environment in a way that honors the mission of their institutions and the wider values of post-secondary education? This session will be part presentation, part working session to discuss and discern the broader context and deeper strategic implications of crisis conversations in higher education. It will be of interest to faculty, staff, and administrators at institutions of higher learning.

Recommended Reading

Please review and explore these resources to prepare for active engagement with your fellow seminar participants.

Seminar Leader 

Sean Johnson Andrews is assistant professor of cultural studies in the Department of Humanities, History, and Social Sciences at Columbia College Chicago. From 2011-2013, Dr. Andrews served as ACLS Public Fellow with NITLE where he focused on the future of libraries and scholarly communications. He has researched and written on the concept of immaterial labor and supporting cultural production in the digital age and a variety of other topics. Dr. Andrews holds a Ph.D. in cultural studies and M.A. in literature with an emphasis in cultural studies, both from George Mason University, and a B.A. in communications from Southwestern University.

Event Hashtag

Participants are encouraged to share their thoughts on Twitter via this event’s hashtag: #nitle


Those interested in better understanding the problems driving crisis conversation in higher education, how they relate to proposed solutions, and discerning where mission-relevant action, if any, should be pursued should attend this seminar. Attendance by institutional teams is encouraged; individuals are also welcome to participate.

Please register online by Friday, January 31, 2014. Participation in NITLE Shared Academics is open to all active member institutions of the NITLE Network as a benefit of membership and as space allows. No additional registration fee applies.

Discussion Guide

For those interested in starting conversations on their campuses, a discussion guide is available.


For more information about this event, please contact Georgianne Hewett at

NITLE Shared AcademicsTM models a new approach to liberal education – made possible through strategic collaboration, driven by shared knowledge, and supported by emerging technologies. Campuses learn how inter-institutional academic exchange works by actively participating in it, building the knowledge and experience to re-architect liberal education.